By 1985 Machine Robo was on the ropes a little. Takara had raised the bar by importing Transformers, and suddenly vehicles that turned into robots just weren't enough. So Bandai started chucking out some more unusual stuff, including the Double Machine Robo. These consisted of two vehicles that combined to form a single robot. Three were issued in 1985, with another trio following a year later.

The first of these was the Jettranser. The initial concept drawings showed that an F-104J Starfighter was intended as the jet part, but this was replaced with an F-15 Eagle (possibly because the larger Eagle was easier for the mechanics or possibly because the Eagle was beginning to take over as the JSDAF's interceptor of choice). Bandai decided to add the figures to the European Robo Machine line the following year, switching the JSDAF livery for USAF markings and prosaically renamed as 'Jet and Transport' (I've dropped the 'and' intentionally, it just looks weird). In 1986, the toy was reissued in Japan as part of the Revenge of Cronos tie-in line.


ALTERNATE MODES

The alternate mode is a bit of an odd one, practically speaking. You can't really imagine a proper jet launching from the back of a truck. It probably is meant to be more of a transport even if this is a bit less exciting. The two parts look very much to scale (even if the truck was most likely an invention on Bandai's part). The Eagle is very nicely done, comparing strongly to Leader-1 - though to be fair it doesn't have to secrete a large number of robot parts about itself. The removable drop tanks and missiles are a nice touch too while the detail work is of the usual high standard.

The truck's not quite as good. On the plus side it's nice that they thought it through and gave it a cab small enough to correspond to the jet's cockpit. It's also functional and orange, which is cool. What's not so good is that it's a mess of robot limbs. The arms are obvious even when the jet's nestling on top, and when it's removed the thighs are also clearly visible. However, the whole thing works nicely as an ensemble.


ROBOT MODE

The combination is actually pretty neat - it would have been quite easy to just have the jet module clamp onto the back of the truck, but instead the nose of the jet threads inside the truck. It's very smart, if a little tricky at first.

Sadly the resulting robot isn't brilliant. There's a rather gangly look to the chap with very long legs compared to the rest of his body, and the head's rather small. It's a shame as the layout isn't bad at all. The grey and orange colours go together nicely, thus making the robot's origins as two separate units clear without creating an eyesore. Articulation is nothing short of excellent however, with the legs utilising those metal joints Bandai were so fond of, and the arms moving in two different places too. Nice stuff, it's just a shame he's so lanky.


SUMMARY

Broadly the Jet Combinator is a success. He doesn't hold a candle to the Helicopter Transport and while he's more imaginative than the Tank Transport, he lacks the straightforward competence the latter has. However, he's much better than any of the Dread Launchers and certainly worth hunting down just for the verve of the design. Good luck finding both halves, though -a lot more examples of the truck module seem to have survived the intervening years than the jet.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1985, Machine Robo Double Machine Robo - W-MR-01: Jettranser
1985, Robo Machine Combinators - Jet and Transporter
1986, Machine Robo Revenge of Cronos Double Machine Robo - MRJW-1: Jettranser

PARTS:
1 x jet module
1 x truck module
2 x drop tanks
2 x missile packs

WEAK POINTS:
None